Entering the 2018 campaign, there was a sense of hope surrounding Boston College men’s soccer. In 2017, the Eagles had struggled mightily, limping to just one ACC win, and crashing out in the first round of the conference tournament to Virginia. So head coach Ed Kelly responded by revamping the roster, picking up 10 freshmen and three transfers in an effort to be more competitive in the ACC. Though BC was indeed more competitive—all but two of the Eagles’ games this season were decided by one goal or less—it didn’t translate to results. BC won just two conference matchups, finishing 4-8-4 on the season, and once again fell in the first round of the ACC Tournament, this time to North Carolina State.
Best Moment: Beating Clemson
Coming into the season, BC hadn’t beaten its Atlantic Division rival since 2009, a remarkable stretch of futility. So finally managing to top the Tigers, in dramatic fashion in front of a home crowd no less, has to rank as the best moment of the 2018 season for the Eagles.
BC nabbed the first goal of the game, but the Tigers fought back in the second period, scoring two goals in a seven-minute span to snatch the lead. With 20 minutes to go, it looked like the Eagles’ string of woes against Clemson would continue, until Simon Enstrom struck. In the 71st minute, the senior captain got his head on a corner kick delivery from Kristofer Konradsson to tie the game and give BC renewed hope. Then, with just over a minute left in the match, Enstrom received the ball on the right wing and unleashed a fierce shot that beat Clemson goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland to win the game before wheeling away and running to celebrate with a group of fans. In an otherwise disappointing season, it was an epic finish to a great game.
Worst Moment: Losing to Wake Forest
The Eagles’ worst moment isn’t about who they lost to—Wake Forest finished the season at No. 6 in the USOC poll—rather it’s about how they lost. BC traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C., in October, outshot the Demon Deacons, 18-7, and earned eight corner kicks to Wake Forest’s four, but simply couldn’t find the back of the net often enough.
The Demon Deacons took the lead two minutes before halftime and eventually won the game on a 74th-minute goal by Alistair Johnston after Trevor Davock equalized on a rebound nine minutes into the second half. What could and arguably should have been a fantastic upset victory for BC instead turned into another crushing one-goal defeat.
Most Valuable Player: Simon Enstrom
Decidedly the most valuable player for the Eagles, the senior forward led BC in nearly every single statistical category. He finished first on the team in points, goals, and shots on goal, and started every single game. He logged two multi-goal matches—including his spectacular winner against Clemson—in the process.
The season was a good end to a spectacular college career for Enstrom. He graduates tied for second in program history in goals with 31 and was a Second-Team All-ACC Selection. The Eagles will certainly have a tough time replacing his production next season.
Most Improved Player: Antonio Chavez Borrelli
Chavez Borrelli wasn’t even the clear-cut starting goalkeeper at the start of the season. Joe Fryatt started the first two games of the year before Kelly made the decision to bench the freshman in favor of Chavez Borrelli at halftime against Boston University. And though the sophomore wasn’t lights out, he did start the final 14 games of the season for the Eagles and drastically lowered his goals-against average from 1.99 in the 2017 season to 1.46 in 2018.
He also registered back-to-back shutouts in 1-0 wins against N.C. State and Harvard—the first BC goalkeeper to accomplish that feat since 2014—and looked much improved in his decision making and ball handling from a year ago. If Chavez Borrelli continues to improve at the same rate, Kelly will have a quality building block for a defensive unit that still needs revamping.
Rookie of the Year: Kristofer Konradsson
Among a group of 10 first-year players, Konradsson was definitely a standout performer. The midfielder led the team in assists with four and tied for second on the team in goals with two. But beyond pure statistics, he was also a consistent creative force on a team that badly needed an offensive spark. He quickly earned responsibility as the team’s primary free kick and corner kick man and excelled at that duty all season long. Much like Chavez Borrelli, Konradsson could be a potential cornerstone for the team moving forward.
Achilles’ Heel: Scoring Goals
BC finished the season tied for 151st in the country in total goals scored with 19, and despite the best efforts of Enstrom and Konradsson, were never able to find a consistent offensive rhythm throughout the season. That’s not to say the Eagles didn’t have opportunities throughout the fall. They actually managed to outshoot opposing teams, 194-188, on the year and definitely could have scored more goals than they did. But at the end of the day, offensive output is measured by how many times the ball finds the back of the net, and, consequently, BC’s inability to score cost them several games in 2018.
How the Eagles perform next season largely depends on how they replace Enstrom’s production. BC will return the majority of its defensive unit—Joshua Forbes and Abe Bibas are the only major contributors that will be graduating—next season, but will have a big hole up top to plug. To be honest, if the Eagles are able to find a more diversified attack this season, it could bode well for their prospects. They’ll likely look to Konradsson, Callum Johnson, and Trevor Davock, as well as the freshman attackers they welcome in 2019, to try and improve their scoring output next season.
Regardless, BC will once again find the sledding tough in the ACC. This is a team that has finished above .500 just once in the past six years and, despite making a run to the NCAA quarterfinals three years ago, has underperformed since then. Some exciting transfers or freshmen notwithstanding, it’s hard to see them doing much better next season—losing Enstrom up top is a lot for an already weak offense to overcome.
Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor